by Cass Art

With entries for Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014 closing next week, we look at the power of the self-portrait… 

Few artworks have the ability to move and enchant in equal measure as these pieces.

One could argue that they afford us a better understanding of the artist than even a Facebook profile ever could.

For painters try not only to give the viewer a glimpse into their graphic likeness, they allow the onlooker a mirror into their self-regard too.

It's this laid-bare delving into the soul that intrigues us so, as the following artists' self-portraits demonstrate:

Irishman Francis Bacon (1909-1992) was as unforgiving on himself as he was on his other subjects. Bacon described his life as being “very difficult”. This was represented as “perhaps … very violent” in a painting that could be alluding to time or death or maybe just a hangover with an obscured wrist bleeding by a sink.

It might be easy to deduce that US trailblazer Andy Warhol (1928-1987) had a favourite subject matter never a million kilometres from home, given the number of self-portraits that he created. They ranged from the non-committal to the cool to the camouflaged, but always intriguing, offering an aptly multi-layered insight into the man.

Dutch master Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) didn't try to disguise his penchant for torture in his self-portraits. They reflect his belief that pessimism and melancholy are the two diseases that civilised humans suffer from most.

Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year

Few TV art shows have grabbed the public's imagination like last year's inaugural series of this programme. Hosted by Joan Bakewell and Frank Skinner, it attracted 1,800 entrants and featured Sophie Dahl, Alison Steadman and John Hannah among the models.

What do you win?

Finalists will have their pieces shown in the National Portrait Gallery over a month. The overall victor will win a £10,000 commission to be permanently displayed at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. They will also enjoy a whole year's worth of art supplies from Cass Art, the London-based acclaimed fine art retailer.

How do you enter?

Think you've you got the ability to succeed 2013 winner Nick Lord as this year's Portrait Artist of the Year? Simply submit your self-portrait to by midday next Tuesday (May 6). Good luck!

Image Credits

Francis Bacon called Three Studies For A Self Portrait (1980), Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

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